Gracefully navigating through the complexity of life and womanhood.
So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
– Neil Gaiman
To be a woman is a beautifully complicated and amazing thing! We are complex creations and yet I think that our complexity is part of what makes us so beautiful.
At times, we can be delicate and precious beings who need to be handled with care. A single word, a look or even the slightest touch can set us alight and lift our souls to great heights as we bask in the affection of our loved ones.
Other times, we are fierce and fearless! Filled with all the rage and power of a protective lioness. In those moments, we come alive as strength and ferocity, grit and sass flow through our veins. The fire in our bellies drives us to achieve great feats of strength! We love fiercely, wholeheartedly and selflessly.
We are women. And we are beautifully complicated and amazing creations!
As the years’ pass, I am realising that the complexity of “womanhood” is more fluid than I ever realised. By that, I mean that becoming a woman is not something that happens in a single moment in time. Womanhood doesn’t start and end with the buying of your first bra or the onset of your first period. Yes, those events do mark the physical start of becoming a woman but they also mark the beginning of dance that you will always be learning the steps to for as long as you live.
"We are women .And we are beautifully complicated and amazing creations!"
This dance will place in your mind as you ask the question: “Am I beautiful? Am I worth it? Am I loved?” and learn to look for the right answers in the right places…
This dance will take place as you choose a career path and periodically wonder if you have made the right choice…
This dance will take place in your relationships as you try and figure out which ones are nurturing and which ones are toxic…
This dance will become your life and you must learn to become a graceful yet strong dancer.
As you learn the steps of this dance called life, there is one thing that you will need to be intentional about doing: and that is learning to cultivate a sense of identity-true identity-and learning to look after you!
Yes, I know that sounds like common sense but think about how often you struggle with actually doing that…
Society and the media would tell us that being a woman means that we have to be borderline masculine go-getters in order to get half the recognition a man gets while doing twice the work. We have to be vocal, dauntless and brash as we remind the world that we can do anything a man can do. We are women. We are brave. We are strong. We are fierce! And yes, all of those things are true. We as women are able to do and achieve great, great things.
However, that’s only the one side of us…
Society and the media would tell us that being a woman means that we have to be borderline masculine go-getters in order to get half the recognition a man gets while doing twice the work.
"...becoming a woman is not something that happens in a single moment in time."
We have to be vocal, dauntless and brash as we remind the world that we can do anything a man can do. We are women. We are brave. We are strong. We are fierce! And yes, all of those things are true. We as women are able to do and achieve great, great things.
However, that’s only the one side of us…
We, women, are also lovers and nurturers. Our bodies have been designed in such a way that we are able to house life within us and nurture it from our bodies. We are the soft place that these little lives count on for love and care. And before our precious babies ever know a thing about life outside the womb, the first thing they do know is that they are loved. Deeply. Selflessly. Sacrificially. Wholeheartedly!
They know this because they can sense that we have given all of our heart and devotion to them!
But this love and affection does not only extend to the children that we bear.
"Something special happens when you take an honest look at yourself and you make your peace with what you see...Magic happens in that moment! New life in birthed in that moment!"
We show similar love and devotion to those closest to us. We are always willing to be there for a girlfriend in need, a sick parent, a sibling going through a tough time, a spouse or partner experiencing some trial or challenge. It’s almost like we can’t help ourselves. We see a need and are all too willing to extend our love to fill the void.
And there’s nothing wrong with that because part of our nature is to feel and show deep love and affection to the ones we love.
It’s how we were made. We possess the amazing capacity to show deep compassion and to give it whole-heartedly from deep within our core.
And so, with these two parts that make up our whole, we must learn the dance of assertion vs. meekness. Outspoken strength vs. soft-spoken grace. We must learn the natural rhythm and flow of when to assert ourselves and boldly stand our ground and when to let our softness and tenderness show. We must learn to balance what the media dictates we should be with how we have been naturally designed.
Striking this balance is not for the faint of heart!
Learning to embrace both these sides of you when society, the media, your family, life experiences and perhaps even your own thoughts tell you to either pick one or the other is probably one of the greatest challenges us girls have to face-the challenge of choosing to be true to who you are when the world says you should be anything but you.
And so you must learn the steps of the dance. The dance of learning to stay you when pressure from the outside weighs in.
Is there a way to survive the pressure?
I would argue that the answer is yes!
It is my belief that this dance of assertion vs. meekness/strength vs. grace is displayed at it’s best when we take the time to zone in on ourselves. Something special happens when you take an honest look at yourself and you make your peace with what you see. You look at you and you see your strengths and your weaknesses, you see your individuality, you see your quirks and you take a deep breath and you embrace that!
Magic happens in that moment!
New life in birthed in that moment!
"I would spend all of my teens years and even some of my early adulthood defining myself by everything I wasn't instead of realising that I could and should define myself by everything that I am! I was so consumed by who I wasn't that I wasted precious, precious time short-changing myself!"
Now before you think that I am talking about some airy-fairy kind of stuff, let me share with you a bit of my story…
I am the youngest of three girls in my family and for the longest time, I held the belief that our birth order was also somehow our rank when it came to who was the most physically beautiful.
The oldest is my sister Marthe and for as long as I can remember, men have always been in love with her! She was blessed with long hair and light skinned (the “holy grail” in Black/African-American circles) and had suitors knocking at our family’s door asking to marry her since she was a teenager…a TEENAGER, PEOPLE! I have never blamed the men who were captivated by her beauty because she is genuinely breathtaking!
And as a kid, I longed to be like her! By that I mean, I always wished I was as beautiful as her! I wished men would look at me and be captivated by my big brown eyes, inviting smile and feminine grace. I longed…no, I craved to know what it felt like to be desired and pursued. To be seen as beautiful! I deeply desired that that kind of affirmation!
Sad but true.
Then there is my sister Betty…and I can promise you, you have never met anyone quite like her before! While Marthe is strikingly beautiful physically, Betty’s physical beauty is amplified by her vivacious and charismatic personality! She is physically beautiful and commands your attention with her confidence. She’s strong, loud and fiercely loyal coupled with hypnotic and magnetic extroversion! She has enough sass for the whole of Texas but in all that fire, there is a deep tenderness there that is always special to witness. When we were in high school together, I would watch my peers and see how they couldn’t take their eyes off of her! And how could they? She was the popular girl with brains, looks and leadership. They would happily follow where she lead.
The teenage me wished I could live her life for a day just to know what all that attention felt like!
“It must feel good to be desired and noticed!” was the constant refrain that ran through my mind when I looked at my sisters. It felt like they lived the life I wanted and were who I desired to be…
Sad but true.
If "The Three Musketeers" were women...
Established May 1988, we three have been inseperable since day one!
What you see before you here is only the tip of the iceberg!
"The fact that you have a soul, and are loved and cherished, already sets you apart! You possess gifts and abilities that enrich this world and make you valuable!"
"Give yourself permission to acknowledge just how beautiful you are!"
Then there was me.
Awkward in her skin at best. I was the athletically gifted one with good grades…who also happened to be a weird introvert who struggled with being comfortable meeting new people because I’d rather stay home and watch a movie than go out partying!
As a teenager, there were never suitors knocking at the door looking for me, nor were there adoring peers looking to me for leadership and admiring my beauty…at all! I don’t think I exaggerate when I stay that in some ways, I was “unremarkable.” I felt to me that while my sisters were admired (in part) for their looks, I was admired for being able to run really fast, being an all-around gifted athlete and being able to draw.
Now, do I think that people were being mean to me? No.
Was I hurt by that absent affirmation all the same? Deeply!
Don’t me wrong, no one ever called me ugly but no one ever called me beautiful. And that lack of affirmation and acceptance left a deep incision in my heart.
In my mind, I was the ugly sibling! I carried that pain with me for a long time and I let that pain affect how I once viewed myself and in some ways, I think that it even affected how I viewed men and romance.
“Why would any man settle for the beast when he could have the beauty?” I would think to myself as I would compare my looks to my sisters’ or any other woman I deemed to be more beautiful than me.
(But that’s a blog for another day! *wink*)
I would spend all of my teens years and even some of my early adulthood defining myself by everything I wasn’t instead of realising that I could and should define myself by everything that I am! I was so consumed by who I wasn’t that I wasted precious, precious time short-changing myself!
I forgot to accept, appreciate and embrace me!
"You are fearfully and wonderfully made and the beauty that you hold is breathtaking!"
I told y’all I know how to cook!
I made this meal from scratch for the feast we enjoyed Christmas eve 2016.
The truth is that no, I do not possess Marthe’s breathtaking looks nor do I have Betty’s electric magnetism…but…I have Rachel’s giftedness and God-given talents by the bucket loads! I have my own special blend of the things that make me, me!I
I am quirky, off-beat and down-to-earth. I can write, sing, dance and girl…I can cook!
I am feisty, straight-talking and funny!
(And where some who might say that I am stubborn, I prefer to call myself tenacious or strong-willed.)
My kids love me, my husband adores me, my friends and family appreciate me and I like who I see when I look in the mirror!
Empowered with these truths, I dance the dance of a woman who is at home in her own skin!
And I want that for you!
I don’t want you thinking that I am getting carried away tooting my own horn, because I am not. Here’s the point I am trying to make: There are many facets to me and all those things are what makes me beautiful!
And the same is true for you!
There are many facets to you and all the things that make you, you…are the things that make you beautiful!
Don’t be like me and waste time longing for what you don’t have when you can embrace your God-given beauty instead!
Be who you are!
Stop comparing yourself to other women, a poster, an actress, an “ideal” and start embracing yourself for the beauty that you truly are! Give yourself permission to acknowledge just how beautiful you are! You don’t need to flawless skin, perfectly manicured nails snow-white teeth and the strongest brow game around in order to be beautiful!
The fact that you have a soul, and are loved and cherished, already sets you apart! You possess gifts and abilities that enrich this world and make you valuable!
You are fearfully and wonderfully made and the beauty that you hold is breathtaking!
Believe this truth.
Embrace this truth.
Live this truth!